What Causes Vehicle Accidents?

by Mar 28, 2022Fleet Safety0 comments

Vehicle crashes aren’t only a concern for truck drivers. According to the CDC, accidents are the top or second leading cause of death in all major industry groups. In 2019, vehicle accidents caused 24% of work-related deaths.

If you manage a fleet, understanding the causes of these events can help you prevent them among your drivers. Armed with the info below, you can show your team why fleet safety is so important.

What are the common causes of accidents?

Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that driver error caused 94% of crashes. They sorted the main causes into five areas:

  • Recognition error (distracted driving, inattention, and poor surveillance)
  • Decision error (speeding, reckless driving, and illegal actions)
  • Performance error (overcompensating, trouble driving straight, etc.)
  • Non-performance error (sleeping, drunk driving, health emergencies, etc.)
  • Other/unknown

We’ll go into these in more detail below.

Recognition error

Recognition error caused more than half (55.7%) of crashes. In these situations, drivers failed to recognize the danger because they weren’t giving full attention to the road. They couldn’t avoid the obstacle or brake early enough to keep from hitting other vehicles or losing control.

When you’re training your drivers, remind them to give their full attention to driving. Even if it feels like it will only take a second, save unnecessary actions for when you’re stopped.

Some common distractions include:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Adjusting the radio or music
  • Checking or sending emails, texts, and notifications
  • Daydreaming
  • Watching videos
  • Giving too much attention to things happening outside of the vehicle

Decision error

Things like speeding, aggressive driving, and illegal actions might be more obvious problems, but you should still include them in safety training. Remind drivers that you can’t assume what other drivers will do. Instead, they should drive defensively to protect themselves from dangerous drivers.

If you have reckless drivers in your fleet, use in-cab coaching to stop these behaviors as they occur. You can also track driver behaviors such as speeding, harsh braking, and harsh turns through your telematics solution. 

Performance error

If a driver can’t safely handle a vehicle, they have no right to drive it. This is especially true for those who drive for their jobs.

All drivers should be able to keep the vehicle in their lane and move safely through traffic with ease. Making hard turns or swerves to overcompensate for mistakes or unexpected events can easily cause an accident. Ensure your drivers are proficient before handing over the keys.

Non-performance error

You can’t control a health emergency, such as a heart attack or seizure. You can, however, teach drivers the symptoms of these events. Train your drivers to pull over at the slightest hint of a medical emergency to get help and avoid accidents.

You also can decide not to drive if you’ve been drinking, using drugs, taking medications that cause impairment, or have gone too long without sleep. Create policies to prevent impaired driving and stress them in driver training sessions. There’s never a good enough reason to put yourself and others at risk when you’re unable to drive safely.

Fleet safety starts with the policies, training, and solutions you create. Learn more about our fleet telematics install services to start protecting your drivers today.

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